Friday, November 18, 2011

The Irrational Worship of Tim Tebow

Last week I opened another post by mentioning how much of the Christian community rides on an emotional wave. Then, a few days ago on my Yahoo news feed, the headline "Furor over custom NFL jersey" popped up. I knew immediately what it was about. Immediately. I clicked on the link and my hunch was confirmed.

I don't get it, people. I don't get it at all. Truth is, I don't think the Christian community really gets it where Tim Tebow is concerned. Sure, they know he's a Christian. How could you not? I mean, the dude wears his Christianity on his sleeve. But they don't know that he's part of "the movement" - homeschooled, missionary kid, probably chock full of his share of strange religious ideas, probably lots of the movement's religious baggage. Yet the Christian community wants to plant its flag with him. I mean, within weeks of being drafted by the Broncos last year, he had the top selling jersey in the NFL. Not bad for a guy considered to be a marginal (at best) pro quarterback prospect. Christians have just been completely irrational about the guy - since he decided to wear his faith on his sleeve. I mean, this... waaaay over the top. If I were Tebow, I'd put a stop to it immediately if I could. It really bothers me that he hasn't, or at least hasn't spoke up about it or voiced displeasure with it.

Tebow probably isn't a terrible guy. His teammates at the University of Florida respected him as a teammate. By the same token, his teammates in Denver aren't quite as enamored with Tebow mania, and there's been some division within the locker room over the push by the fans for Tebow to become the starting QB. Many of the players feel there are better options on the team for the QB position.

As a football player, Tebow is an interesting paradox. Great high school player, incredible college player, marginal NFL prospect and terrible NFL quarterback. Last year, in his rookie season, he got a couple of starts toward the end of the season. He wasn't downright awful, but didn't exactly set the world on fire. The Broncos were out of the playoff race, and their coach, Josh McDaniels, had nothing to lose by playing Tebow. McDaniels had spent a 1st round draft pick on Tebow (VERY controversial of him to do so - like I've said, Tebow was considered a marginal NFL QB prospect with poor throwing mechanics and questionable grasp of the mental aspects of the game), was on thin ice with both the fans and the Broncos brass, and playing Tebow was a risk worth taking. If Tebow had succeeded, McDaniels might save his job. Tebow was very average, and McDaniels was fired.

Coach John Fox was hired to replace McDaniels - and Tebow was demoted to 4th string (where he probably belongs). But, with other QBs failing, and the Broncos' season going down the toilet, a couple of weeks back Fox gave in to the pressure from the fanbase (who worship Tebow's wearing of his faith on his sleeve) and gave the starting QB job to Tebow.

The Broncos won their first game with Tebow starting against the Dolphins (one of the worst teams in the NFL), but not because of Tebow. He had a poor game. The next week, the Lions utterly destroyed Tebow and the Broncos. Some of the Lions players mentioned that the Broncos had no hope as long as Tebow was their QB. It was that bad. The next week, the Broncos beat a weak Kansas City team - largely by taking the ball out of Tebow's hands. He attempted a total of 8 passes (he completed a paltry 2 of them). The average NFL QB throws 30+ a game and completes about 2/3 of them. What does that say? It says the Broncos' coaching staff has more faith in Tebow's ability to lose a game for them than to win one. Then, last night, the Broncos beat the Jets on a last minute TD run by Tebow and with another gameplan that had, by and large, taken the ball out of Tebow's hands passing-wise. Tebow played historically bad right up until the touchdown at the end. Yet my Facebook feed lit up with people singing Tebow's praises after the game last night - ONLY because they're caught up in the emotion of the Christianity he wears on his sleeve.

So, in 2 of his 4 starts this season, Tebow's been radically awful, and in the other 2 starts, he's been well below average. His own coach, John Fox, said just last week, "If we were trying to run a regular offense, he'd be screwed." That's his own coach saying that.

The bottom line with Tebow - he's just not a very good pro quarterback. If anything, he's a bit annoying with his "faith", wearing it so proudly on his sleeve, making sure everyone sees him pray, saying "blessed" somewhere around every third word in his interviews. And if homeschoolers want a posterboy for their movement, they might want to pick someone who doesn't sound like a 2nd grader giving an oral book report when being interviewed, because Tebow does. From my understanding, his SAT score was barely a qualifying one when he entered the University of Florida. He's not exactly "bright". That doesn't mean he's a bad guy - he's just probably not the guy you want to use to demonstrate the benefits of homeschooling.

Tebow isn't the only Christian in the NFL. There's lots of em. He's just the only one wearing it on his sleeve and making his religion a public spectacle. I prefer the approach of the others.

Tebow's overt Christianity gets on my nerves, but I'm also willing to consider that maybe it isn't Tebow that bothers me so much as it is the obnoxious and irrational Christian fanbase that promotes him.


  1. Whiner. You're just a Jets fan with an axe to grind! Mwahahahahaha!!!

    The Vikings are used to crappy QB's.

  2. I thought it was so interesting when they bought Tebow. my immediate thought was that our state's Christian homeschool group was gonna try to recruit him to speak at one of their conferences. I would not be surprised in the least if that pans out. but I seriously considered writing him a letter or something and being like, "Listen. If this group contacts you, DO NOT GET INVOLVED. You have no idea what it's really like and what their agenda is."
    but, you think he is one of them? I mean, I don't know. I haven't paid much attention.
    it has been annoying to hear those who have jumped on the bandwagon and become fiercely loyal simply because he's a Christian.
    having said that, as someone who doesn't know a whole lot about football and just watches casually now and then, I don't think playing Tebow is such a bad idea. unconventional, probably, but it's fun to watch. and isn't he like 4-1 since starting? plus, look at his face. haha =)

    anyway, it still gets me how prevalent this whole cultic homeschool thing is.

  3. It figures. In a country where the Christians worship the football more than they worship God, this seems pretty normal to me. Wrong, but normal.

  4. He's a crappy QB. I think he was adequate at Florida but the NFL is the big boys and he's certainly not one of them.

    NB: I am a Packer fan born and bred and I think Aaron Rodgers exemplifies how a QB should be.

  5. @Amy...He's definitely a product of Christian homeschooling, but I couldn't say with any certainty how deeply involved or connected to the whackadoodles he is. He did that commercial for Focus on the Family a couple of years ago, so he's flirting with the fringe sociopolitical crowd, but I'm not sure if he's Vision Forum crazy.

    Part of me is curious as to if the Broncos put any kind of clauses in his contract related to his religion, as in having a say in which organizations or causes he's allowed to publically endorse.

  6. I like Troy Polamalu's approach a lot better.

  7. Bottom line on Tebow, as far as I am concerned, he WINS!

    And that he does so with faith, and integrity and humility is icing on the cake.

  8. @Anonymous 10:47...He hasn't in the NFL, though. The sample size of a few games isn't really enough to establish him as a winner. In fact, every statement his coach makes suggests that the Broncos have won in spite of Tebow rather than because of him. His actual play has been pretty poor.

    If he's a product of the movement, and buys in to all it sells, does he even know what integrity really is? Or is he just going through the mechanisms? Not sure he demonstrates a lot of humility, either, being he's kinda "in your face" with his faith.

    I'm a bigger fan of athletes/coaches who don't wear their faith on their sleeve. Dean Smith (UNC basketball coach from 1961 to 1997) was and is a man of strong faith, and did more to benefit his fellow man than just about any individual I know of, but you'd never hear about any of that from him. He'd probably get sick over someone printing a T-shirt representative of him with Jesus' name in place of his own.

  9. Lewis, you say Tim is not a winner in the NFL and he's played poorly. I'll agree, he has played poorly at times. He needs to be able to hit open receivers. However, in the record books and current standings what shows is that the Broncos are now 5-5. There is no asterisk that says those 5 wins don't count as much because the QB played poorly, you know?

    I think we can probably go back and forth over this and neither of us change our view. I will say this: As to the Jesus jerseys. We don't know that Tim has not expressed his dismay over them. The media probably wouldn't report it; there's more sensationalism in the jerseys. And today, John Fox recanted some of the things he said about Tim earlier in the week.

    As to wondering if he really knows what integrity is; all I can say is that I have met and talked with the young man. At almost 60 years of age and with a good bit of life experience under my belt I would like to think I am a fairly good judge of character. In my opinion, Tebow is the real deal.And I think there's room in the world for both his exuberant faith and Coach Smith's more quiet faith. It's kind of like church music; there are different styles and it's ok to prefer one over another as long as the words are doctrinally sound and bring honor to God there's room for different styles.

    I did not home school my children, and I am not a fundamentalist, but I do think you are treading close to... ...when you begin to assume that because someone was home schooled and is outspoken about their faith that they are a "product of the movement". How about we give Tebow the benefit of the doubt for a little while? He's young. Maybe he'll prove you right, but maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  10. Anon...The phrase I edited out isn't allowed here.

    It's more than that, Anon. He was homeschooled (most likely with curriculum laced with fundamentalism) and is outspoken about his faith...AND he's a missionary's kid who's done a commercial for Focus on the Family. He's a product of the movement, no doubt. Whether he fully buys in, that's another matter that I can't comment on to any degree of certainty.

  11. Oops, my bad. Poor choice of phrase and I sincerely apologize. Your argument is persuasive, and I do appreciate that you admit you can't be certain about Tebow's degree of immersion. I will be disappointed if we come to find out that he is just going through the mechanisms. I pray he's not.

    Thanks, Lewis, for the discussion.

  12. As an Oakland Raiders fan, all I need to hate Tebow is the fact that he plays for the Broncos. :)

  13. I'm going to agree about Troy Polamulu. He's a good'un. :)

  14. I'm not a football fan nor an American, so I don't really get the whole football worshipping culture (I also don't really get the fundamentalist culture either. I guess we're too small in Canada to have these types of movements be too widespread.) However, the first thought that came to mind was that Tebow is definitely an eligible bachelor in the fundamentalist world and I'm sure he has a lot of these women in the homeschooling world crushing on him but I would bet money, for all of his talking about faith, that he's not going to go for a make-up free, denim jeans wearing, submissive homeschooler type girl to marry. He'll go for cheerleader-hawt, is my guess. And all the homeschooled girls dreaming of marrying him might have to re-think what these "godly" men are really looking for in a wife.

    Then again, I could be totally off. I just know from experience that many Christian girls neglect their outward appearance in favour of cultivating their spiritual lives, thinking that will inspire a man to marry them (which is the cherished dream). Not that men are totally shallow, but it does a disservice to these women when they believe that men don't care about outward appearance when choosing a wife. (It seems to be especially bad with the fundamentalist groups. What I wouldn't give to go in there with armed with some makeup and hair products...)

    I know that this doesn't have anything to do with football, per say, but those are my thoughts :)

    Thanks Lewis, for all the thought-provoking posts and everyone for the lively discussion.


  15. I was in the movement in the 1980s that boasted AC Green of the LA Lakers as their poster boy. I have a real distaste for superstardom in Christianity. No Christian should be given special status on account of "stardom" of any kind.

  16. 100% agree, Kristen. I think that's why the Jesus jersey bothers me so much. They don't make anyone think about Jesus, but they make everyone think about Tim Tebow.

  17. Odd...From my perspective, it seems as though Christians are rather disappointed by Tebow's performance. Or don't care too much because he's not on their team. Oh, well. Reading this reminded me of your earlier discussion about Courageous, although the comparison is probably a bit unfair to Tebow. Whether in business, professional sports, arts, or film, we Christians have been taught to accept mediocrity rather than encourage and praise excellence. Maybe it's the effect of a culture developed around coddling people's self-esteem.

  18. As a Christian who has raised two children and home schooled them both for the majority of their education, I now wish that I hadn't! I was deeply into the Fundemantelist teachings and mindset. Anumber of things happened that forced me to confront the error and errors of the whole. I have rejected 90+percent of those teachings and returned to my Congregational roots. My point though is this I will not wear my Christianity on my sleve, my back or any where on my person! I will let my witness and actions speak for my Faith I refuse to wear it on my sleave.

  19. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals seem to have a need for celebrities to attach Christianity to as if it will validate them. My Evangelical raised college roommate was a sports fan who felt compelled to only root for teams and players who were "Christians". It irritated me then and still does. But when I really saw it was teaching at a Christian school where on nearly a weekly basis there was some rumor around of some random celebrity having recently been "saved" and how wonderful it was going to be "for the kingdom". And most named in their rumors were utterly absurd...Jane Fonda, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, Oprah...

  20. It is my understanding that he was in ATI for at least one year, maybe several. I know BG mentioned him (when he won some trophy) as having been in ATI.

  21. It just doesn't matter. Can he win games?

  22. Lewis,

    I came to your blog because I am deeply concerned about some of what I'm seeing in the extremes of the homeschool movement. I've read Quivering Daughters and some other stuff about the Patriarchal movement. I don't buy into it. Some of it makes me literally sick at my stomach.

    That said, this post bothered me. You attacked someone without knowing if they even adhere to the belief systems we both find so offensive . . . I am a homeschooler. I made the choice to give the last 20ish years of my life to raising and loving my children as I believe God called me to do. I don't believe it's the only way to raise children, but I do believe God put it on MY heart. I have have a beautiful, vivacious twenty-year-old who is opinionated as they come and whose father constantly gives her wings to become herself. She works as a cosmetologist in the crazy world of Boulder where she's often the only Christian in the store. Right now she's saving money to get her own place. She wants to stand on her own before she marries. She has a boyfriend SHE chose who smiles at her strong personality and thinks she's adorable. We don't fit the profile of the people you blog about, but you seem to throw us all in the same category in this post.

    I need to read some more before I get my dander up completely, but it felt like you threw Tebow to the the sharks because he'd been homeschooled without even knowing the whole story. Do you do that with me and my family as well?

    I felt this was an irresponsible post.

  23. @Paula...The post wasn't so much about Tim Tebow as it was about the irrational attachment to and worship of him by evangelical Christians...simply because he wears his faith on his sleeve. Idolizing him simply because he spouts the buzzwords of someone on "our team" in a cultural war is irrational without knowing exactly what flavor he is.

    I've been clear that I don't know the extent of his adherence to the whackadoodle elements, but there's more than enough circumstantial evidence (particularly if he was a part of ATI) to make the connection and to suggest that he absolutely isn't mainstream in his belief system. He very much appears to be a Kool-aid drinking product of the movement.

    I HOPE he isn't.

    As to my views on Christian homeschooling, you may want to read at these links...